Saturday, October 8, 2016

More of Our Favorites in Iceland

We just can't get enough of this place, called Iceland. Oh my goodness, it is literally one beautiful site, experience, opportunity, right after the other.

Below are a LOT of pictures we taken as we've worked (yes we still 'work' 9-5, M-F, at the National Archives of Iceland and love every minute of it), taken many day and/or night trips. Enjoy!

Elder and Sister Michaelsen LOVE to hike. We went with them to Skogafoss, a beautiful waterfall in the south of Iceland. We climbed up the zillion stairs to the top of the hill (see picture below), then we walked for about and hour and a half along the river. Honestly, we passed about seven or so beautiful waterfalls. We finally lost track of how many and just enjoyed the walk. After we stopped and had our lunch, Terry and I turned back and did some exploring at the bottom. The Michaelsen's went on for another few hours. They were exhausted when they returned, but very pleased with what they had seen and experienced. 

 Almost to the top . . . 
 View from the top, absolutely beautiful

 Second waterfall

 You always know there's going to be sheep roaming in the beautiful grass
 Waterfall number three

 I wonder if these sheep know they live in a beautiful place
 Waterfall number four
 So peaceful and serene
 Waterfall number five

 Waterfall number six
 Waterfall number seven
 Waterfall number eight
 We stopped here and had lunch. We ran in to an Icelandic tour guide with four American guys having an adventure of a lifetime. The day before they had been scaling the glaciers and today walking in the highlands. Of course, Terry was giving them an earful :) 

 Do you see the big rock formations? This my friends is a beautiful island called Vestmannaeyjar or Westman Islands in English. This is where many of the Icelanders who left and made the journey to Spanish Fork, Utah were from. Many of my family members were from there. Two of the young missionaries serving in Iceland were on assignment to go visit some of the members of the LDS Church who live on this little island. We had the opportunity of escorting them, which is an absolute privilege for me. In this picture, we're driving to the ferry boat. If you read our blog last March, this is the same ferry boat and island we visited when our grandson, Morgan, came visit us. Yes, the horrible two hour experience of loosing our lunch. Ugh... However, in the summer, the boat can leave from a different harbor, the ride is less than 30 minutes, and the experience was PERFECT this time.
 We're almost off. Elder Stuart (from Canada), Elder Allred (from Germany), and my cute Elder Shepherd. 
 Here comes the ferry boat to pick us up, have to say my tummy was a little apprehensive. 
 The little green spot out in the blue water is the island
 The name of the one and only city on the island is Heimaey
 It's a small world . . . This is who we found on the ferry boat: Clark and Colleen Thorstensen. He is a Western Icelander and was raised in Spanish Fork. He was celebrating his 80th birthday and wanted nothing more than for all of his children and their spouses to make a trip together to Iceland. So, they did it and he was ALL smiles. Clark has been very instrumental in keeping the Icelandic heritage alive and well in Spanish Fork. It was wonderful spending our time on the ferry boat with them.
 First stop, a picture of the two young Elders with the south shore in the background. If you take a close look behind them you can see how the glacier is meeting the clouds. Also, just as I was taking the picture, Elder Allred said, "Wait, is my mother going to see this picture?".  I said, yes, I'm sure she is. Then he put his hands in the heart shape and said, "Tell her this is for her!" Ah, I'm pretty sure I had a happy tear in my eye. These young men leave their home and everything happy and comfortable for two years, to share the message that Jesus Christ lives, is their elder brother, and He loves them very much.

There was a huge volcanic eruption in 1974 on the island. This picture shows the location of the crater and how you can climb up a hill and walk down inside of it. The young Elders took off for the adventure.
 While the Elders explored, we stopped to take a selfie with Vestmannaeyjar in the background, along with a little wind assisting with a great hairdo. Right after this shot, the wind whipped the hat off of Terry's head and it blew almost to the bottom of this hill. It was great entertainment watching Terry chase his hat. Good news, he got it back.
 Ah, this picture swells my heart. This is my roots. That's it, the little city of Heimaey. About 3,000 people live on the island, some of them born and raised here, and have no plans to leave. Every time I visit here, my heart feels the connection to my ancestors. Yes, families are forever. I know!
 Now we're off to Mormon Pond, as you can see the words carved in this piece of driftwood, in Icelandic. This is where the early Mormon converts were baptized.
 This is a monument the Icelandic Association of Utah erected in 2000 to honor our ancestors and make certain they will always be remembered. The angels arms are outstretched across the ocean, to America. Maybe they are saying thank you to those who left for your hardships and struggles, and also come back, to their descendants so they can see full circle who they are and where they came from.
 There are about 315 names engraved on the monument, which about 200 were from Vestmannaeyjar. Side note: The name of my father, Arthurs Sigurdur Johnson, my sister, Vina Lee Foster, and me, are engraved on the back of this monument. We were serving on the Board of Directors during this project, along with Clark Thorstensen, who was on the ferry boat with us. 
This is actually the 'Mormon Pond' where the early Saints were baptized. When the tide goes out, the lava rocks form a pool. It was absolutely beautiful when we were here. Take a look back at the pictures we took in March, it was a FREEZING COLD day. However, I'm certain the water is still VERY COLD. 

 We visited the Icelandic Mormon Immigrants to Utah museum and found the pictures of my family members who were baptized and traveled to Utah.

 It was suggested we visit the Aquarium, which we did and it was wonderful. However, the big deal that day was Save the Puffin day. When it's time for the baby Puffins to fly out of their nests and in to the big ocean for the winter, some of them fly towards the city lights. It is a tradition for the children to gather the Puffins, care for them for a few days, and then take them to the Aquarium to be weighed and have a band put around their ankle. From there the children take the Puffins to the ocean and throw them in the air. The Puffins then fly off to find their Puffin families. The Puffin you see here the little girl is petting is Toti. Toti is about five years old. It was sick and didn't make the release, so the family kept it all winter at their home. Long story short, Toti has been 'the boss' of the house since the beginning.

 Elder Allred took a liking to Toti....and vice versa I do believe.
 This is an actual picture in the Volcano museum that shows the volcano raging in the background with the ash almost completely covering the church. Every single resident had to leave the island for six months, some of them never returned. However, those who did return cleaned the city and restored their happy and comfortable life there.
 Goodbye Vestmannaeyjar - see you next July! We'll be returning with 40 cousins, Western Icelanders, to show you off and allow them to feel the swell in their hearts for you.

 Ah, look what Terry and I have . . . A darling baby. Actually, my cousin . . . little Jósúa Helgi is the son of Odinn (my cousin we found out) and Rhiannon (a friend we were introduced to who has become a doTERRA business partner).  The three of them came for dinner and a visit. We had a wonderful time.

 So we're off for another adventure with the young missionaries. This is a picture of how the early Icelanders lived. Oh my, so happy I get to live in our beautiful apartment here in Iceland with running water, indoor plumbing, etc. Feeling very blessed beyond measure.
 And of course, yet another waterfall.
 Or maybe two, or three, or four waterfalls.
 Trying to get these six young men to all smile and say cheese at the same time is about as successful as herding cats. It's always a good day when we get to take a day off from work and spend it with these happy guys. Elder Jensen (Utah), Elder Allred (Germany), Elder Stuart (Canada), Elder Stirk (Washington), Elder Geslison (Utah), and Elder Ludwig (Texas).
 Great memories tucked in my heart forever!
 My missionary buddy, Sister Michaelsen from Missouri!
 Hmmm, view from the top of The Garden of Eden....or at least we think so :)
 There are really nice paths on almost every hike you take in Iceland. They all fit in with nature and make it extra safe to walk and enjoy the beauty around you.
 Just too beautiful

 Of course, the young missionaries are on TOP of the boulder, getting a birds eye view!
 Absolutely gorgeous! 
 And a few more . . . 

 Much of the time, I'm always baking or cooking something for a Church or work activity. This is my latest #1 favorite: Pumpkin Spice Cake. YUMMY!!!  The Fall always makes my mind register, PUMPKIN season...from cakes to pies to soups, they all hit the spot.

 Then we get this picture of Terry's mother (she'll be 89 years old next month) with Lillie, our darling granddaughter. They took Grandma for a ride in Terry's Ranger....he was happy to see the kids were enjoying his toys while we are away.

 As you know, we're always looking out the window of our apartment. Today was a first, a rainbow that looked like it was coming out of the ocean, or going in to it. Always something beautiful.

 This is a first too. It's common for me to find a cousin or someone I'm related to in Iceland. However, this young man, Cody Carter, is a guy that showed up to Church a few weeks ago. He was from Provo, Utah. My mother (who is not my Icelandic connection) is related to the Carter's who settled in the River Bottoms in Provo. I pulled up on my phone, and sure enough, WE ARE COUSINS! Life just keeps getting better and better and is always filled with nice surprises.

 So our Supervisor at the Archives, Benedikt, came to our office and said he had a great idea. He wanted to take us on a tour of the Reykjanes Peninsula. Of course, we are always up for looking at more fascinating things here! We left the office at 1:00, right after lunch. We didn't arrive back in to Reykjavik until 8:00 p.m. After the tour Benedikt took us to his favorite restaurant and the Archive treated us to dinner. Really! Oh my goodness, WE LOVE what we are doing and the many wonderful people we have met along the way.  The first place Benedikt took us was EXACTLY what our hearts needed. At home, the leaves are turning and one of our favorite things to do is go to the mountains and enjoy the beauty. We drove through an area that looked 'just like home'.  Our hearts are content now, all is well.  

 Our first stop was a really hot place, literally. If you click on the picture above, you can read the English version about this amazing place. Or, click on these links for a lot more details: The Geothermal area Krýsuvík


The Geothermal Area Of Krýsuvík is an Icelandic Jewel

 We told Benedikt some day when he quit his day job he should become a professional tour guide. At least once a week he comes to our office and shares a piece of history, amazing story, or some place awesome we should visit. As you can see in the picture above, he's pointing and telling Terry something amazing. He's a wonderful man and so very proud of his beautiful country of Iceland.

 We stopped by an old cemetery where a man by the name of Arni Gislason use to live and is buried in the churchyard (the church is no longer standing). 

 Just taking picture of the view as we drive. Love the sea.
 And the fishing, such a hard job!

 Took a moment to stop for a hot drink and Icelandic treat
 Cute little mom/pop stop
 Great conversation
 Lots of 'stuff' to take picture of
 Somebody loves to wood carve

 Now that is a PILE of fish nets
 And these are my new friends. They were sitting outside of the coffee shop soaking up the sun and enjoying each other's company. Terry said you should go talk to them. I was thinking the same thing, but thought I probably shouldn't bother them. So, with Terry's urging, asked Benedikt to come with me and translate, just in case none of them spoke English. I told them hello in Icelandic and then Benedikt explained to them I was a Western Icelander and most of my family was from Vestmannaeyjar. Well, the young man on the far right spoke good English and the conversation was on. Back and forth, asking questions, sharing what they did for a living, telling me the Icelanders who are from Vestmannaeyjar were the toughest and strongest of them all. As I listened to them talk, it reminded me of my father and his five brothers and my many Icelandic uncles. My emotions flooded over with tears and I told them I thought they were all wonderful. The youngest of them all on the far left, TOTALLY reminded me of an old Icelandic man who use to live in Spanish Fork, his name was Gisli Bearnson. I drifted back to my childhood for a moment, and yes, again, my ancestors were by my side. They are grateful for Family Search and the efforts being put in to connect families.

 More driving and lots and lots of lava. There have been many volcanic eruptions in Iceland over the centuries. It's beautiful in the summer when the moss that covers the lava creates green patches.
 Another hot springs, and this time, WOWSER, it was HOT, HOT STEAM!
 I love, for whatever reason, walking behind the guys and watching them chat. 
 I also love that Terry is always watching out for me, saying, 'Are you coming?'
We walked in to the cloud of steam and it was HOT and felt lovely.
 The steam is connected to one of the many power plants in Iceland that creates their geothermal power.

 A beautiful lighthouse, a beacon of safety to bring the fisherman home to their families
More sea and rock and shore 

 First we were in North America
 Then we were on a Bridge
 We crossed the bridge and we were in Europe - so fascinating

All of the pictures up to this point were either taken by Terry or I with our phone camera. Benedikt has a very nice camera and he asked in the beginning if he could take some pictures of us along the way. Below 10 very nice pictures from him....Thank you Benedikt for your kindness and friendship.

 Another lighthouse

 Another old church
 Another cemetery  . . . .  none of it ever gets old or boring. 

 Yes, two more churches and cemeteries

One more harbor; peaceful, calm, and serene.

Okay, let's switch gears. Remember all those 24/7 hours of total daylight? Well they are gone. It's getting darn now around 7 p.m. and light around 7 a.m. the next morning. No worries though, because now the treat is Norther Lights dancing in the sky. Oh my goodness, what a beautiful sight. 

 The young missionaries have to be in bed at 10:30 every night, for two years. Unless, one of them calls their mission president in Denmark and tells him the Norther Lights are suppose to be AMAZING and could they get permission to stay up and watch them. Permission was granted, and off we went, along with the Michaelsen's. We drove about 20 minutes outside of Reykjavik and OH MY GOODNESS, what a show we were given. It was great hearing one of the young missionaries say "I think this is better than Christmas", and then the discussion that followed was priceless.

 Terry's Birthday was September 29. We received a call from Hanna, a darling Icelandic daughter of ours. Ha, for real. She was an exchanged student in our home about 20 years ago. She sent a message the night before Terry's Birthday which said, "Isn't it dad's birthday tomorrow?". I said yes and she said great, I'm going to be in Reykjavik tomorrow, can I stop by the Archives and bring Dad a surprise. So, Hanna and her daughter, Estella, brought Terry YUMMY, homemade, cinnamon roles and a pair of home knitted wool socks. WOWSER, what a talented young lady. It is very common for all Icelandic women to knit socks, sweaters, hats, etc., I mean, ALL OF THEM, they learn in school and in their home. They were surprised when I said I didn't know how to knit....YIKES, guess I'm not as Icelandic as I thought.
 It is also the tradition at the office to bring your own cake when it's your Birthday. I made two of my Pumpkin Spice Cakes for the occasion and as always, Terry LOVES chatting guy talk with all of the men. Me and the girls were sitting at the tables having our own 'girl talk'. 

As much as we love being in Iceland, sometimes we REALLY miss home. Just this last Wednesday, October 5, our oldest grandson, Morgan got married. It was a hard day, a few tears, and heart tearing just a little. But then when you receive a pictures like these, how can your heart not burst with joy.  
The new Mr. and Mrs. Morgan & Kylie Hughes and the handsome groom getting a kiss from his Great Grandmother Shepherd. 
 These two have always had a special connection. He has always been so respectful of her, yes, this made our hearts swell.
 What a great picture to end this blog post with. Our daughter Ashlie, her hubby John, and their ever growing family. Life is what we make it, I would say this family is doing a darn good job of making the best of every day. 

Until next time - bless, bless,
Terry and Lil